Arely Herrera

“I came here because I know this area by heart. But it’s also very relaxing, safe. There are just never a lot of problems at SMC.”

She was in her second semester at SMC, and in the midst of a culmination of a period of horror in her life. A period that would likely have sent a lesser young woman pulling the blankets up over her head in search of the solace of darkness. “It was just a few days ago when my best friend was killed by a hit-and-run driver,” said Arely Herrera. “And the police have found out nothing, so far.” After this trauma, Arely lost her living space and was forced to move in with friends. But these weren’t the greatest shocks to her system.

“I used to work with my mom in the food trucks near the Hollywood venues. But in 2011,” Arely recalls, “Mom was also working in a laundromat. And when she was taking out the trash one night, a guy approached her and, for no apparent reason, just shot her in the head. She was pronounced DOA at the hospital.” And though Arely recounts these dark events in a voice of great clarity and calm, you sense that the wrenching traumas she’s been through will one day need some intensive and personal exploration.

“It’s been very hard for me during these times, but I’ve seen a lot of very positive changes in myself at SMC. I just have to be very tough, and make sure that it’s all about school right now. And what I dream of doing,” Arely continues, “is to get my Master’s in Pediatric Nursing, and then have my own family. Personal issues are just going to have to wait until then. But for now, I just have to be very strong and keep my dreams alive.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.